Nuyorican Poets Cafe to Present The World Premiere of LIFE AMONG THE ARYANS By Ishmael Reed
In "Life Among the Aryans," an American political satire by Ishmael Reed, directed by Rome Neal, the time is the future and the political pendulum has swung way back. Now the president is Jewish and the head of the FBI is a Black woman, presenting such a nightmare to the far right that they now miss the president they called The Muslim King. The government has enacted reparations to Black Americans for the unpaid labor of their ancestors. This inspires envy and desperation among impecunious members of the Alt-Right. But it also inspires them to a new, uproarious strategy of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Ishmael Reed will present the satire May 31 to June 24 at Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 236 East Third Street (betw. Avenues B and C).The play presents a cunning satire of White class consciousness. In its hilariously dystopian future, it's clear that white supremacists have been hornswoggled by their Alt-Right President, P.P. Spanky, who has shuffled up all their wealth to his billionaire friends. But these white folks still don't realize that all along, Blacks should have been their natural allies in their fight against exploitation. Alt-Right activists contort themselves ideologically to fit into the new world order while their wives escape the misery of their home lives by "going Black." With wordplay and irony, the play reminds us how nowadays, red state ideologues have enthusiastically elected their own exploiters, making them share with Black America the butt end of the economy. In Ishmael Reed's traditional style, every character is a clown. The play uses time-honored techniques of signifyin' to make light of how white folks are oblivious to the irony of their political situation. The play was originally workshopped at the Cafe with the support of NYSCA. Ishmael Reed is an American poet, novelist, essayist, songwriter, editor, and publisher, who is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture. He is a winner of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (genius award), the renowned L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award. He has been nominated for a Pulitzer and finalist for two National Book Awards and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkley. He founded the Before Columbus Foundation, which promotes multicultural American writing. (The American Book Awards, sponsored by the foundation, has been called The American League to the National Book Awards' National League.) He also founded PEN Oakland (called "The Blue Collar PEN" by The New York Times), which issues the Josephine Miles Literary Awards. Mr. Reed is author of thirty titles including the acclaimed novel "Mumbo Jumbo," as well as essays, plays and poetry. Titles include "The Freelance Pallbearers," "The Terrible Threes," "The Last Days Of Louisiana Red," "Yellow Back Radio Broke Down," "Reckless Eyeballing," "Flight To Canada," "Japanese By Spring" and "Juice." He is an AUDELCO and an Otto awards recipient for drama and Backstage magazine has compared him to Moliére. He is currently Distinguished Professor at The California College of the Arts. Director Rome Neal is the Artistic Theatre Director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe theatre program. He received an Obie Grant with Cafe founder Miguel Algarin for excellence in theater. He has received two Audelco Awards for directing ("Shango de Ima" by Pepe Carril and "Don't Explain" by Samuel Harp), two for acting (for the leading part in "Signs" by Gabrielle N. Lane and for Solo Performance for "Monk" by Laurence Holder), and one for lighting design ("Shango de Ima" by Pepe Carril). Neal has also received the National Black Theatre Festival's coveted Lloyd Richards Director's Award and a Monarch Merit Award for his outstanding contributions in New York Theatre. His other directing credits include "Julius Caesar Set in Africa," an adaptation of the classic play; "The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop" by Sekou Sundiata; "Meeting Lillie" and "Primitive World: an Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical" by Amiri Baraka and"The C Above High C" by Ishmael Reed, all performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem North Carolina. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe serves as a home for groundbreaking works of poetry, music, theater, visual arts and poetry slam. A multicultural and multi-arts institution, the Cafe opens its arms to audiences, artists and students of all backgrounds; its extended community of regulars is a reflection of New York City's diverse population. Allen Ginsberg called the Cafe "the most integrated place on the planet." It champions artists who exist outside the mainstream, particularly spoken word artists of color whose work addresses socially, economically and politically intense topics. The Cafe is home to a multitalented network of artists and educators who devote their efforts to championing the diverse artistic voices of tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal referred to the Cafe as "an antidote to gentrification," and NPR called the Cafe "one of the most welcoming spots in all of New York City," a "wildly diverse venue with socially conscious programming" that "speaks to the marginalized." "Life Among the Aryans" will be acted by Tom Angelo, Kim Austin, Maurice Carlton, Allam Forster, Eric Frazier, Jennifer Glassgow, Angela Gray, Malika Iman, Frank Martin,Timothy Mullins Lisa Pakulski, Monisha Shiva, Verinia Taylor and Robert Turner. Maurice Carlton (as Dr. Krokman, who turns Whites into Blacks with special formula) and Robert Turner (as ghost of a New Orleans Dock worker) are veteran actors and multiple AUDELCO Award winners. Set design is by Kanako Nagayama. Costume design is by Carolyn Adams.